British Foreign Secretary "disappointed" Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction

William Hague

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Foreign Secretary William Hague said that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

December 12, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — The Foreign Secretary said:

I am disappointed that Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction and that peace talks are currently on hold. It is Britain’s longstanding view that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

I spoke to US Envoy Senator Mitchell to underline Britain’s support for work to find a way forward. The leadership of the United States remains vital.

There is an urgent need for progress to secure a two state solution, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states and with a fair settlement for refugees. This is important for Israelis, for Palestinians and for the international community including the UK.

We will continue to work with the United States, the parties to the conflict and with our EU and UN partners to achieve a two state solution. In addition, we will continue to press for an end to all settlement activity.

PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem December 12, 2010. REUTERS/Bernat Armangue/Pool

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Jerusalem, Dec 12 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’s OFFICE) — Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

Last week the Government worked intensively in order to rehabilitate the communities that were hurt in the Carmel wildfire and to assist the citizens who were evacuated from their homes.

I instructed Government ministries to unite their forces and act so that dealing with those who were hurt in the fire, and the infrastructures, will be detailed, efficient, focused and – above all – quick, in order for normal life to be restored as quickly as possible.

The team of director-generals chaired by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabai has already toured the area, met with residents and begun the work of rehabilitation.  We allocated NIS 4.5 million, for preliminary rehabilitation, to the Carmel Coast Regional Council and NIS 3 million to Isfiya.

Today, another NIS 1 million will be transferred to Daliyat Al-Carmel and another NIS 2 million to Tirat Hacarmel.  The families that were left without a roof over their heads have already received NIS 2,500 per person in assistance, i.e. an average of NIS 10,000 per family.  This is to help them with basic needs.

Additionally, the Social Welfare and Social Services Ministry is allocating almost NIS 500,000 in preliminary assistance for clothes and medicines.  The Construction and Housing Ministry is preparing a detailed plan to repair the physical damages to infrastructures and buildings.

The Transportation Ministry is already carrying out work in the field to repair transportation infrastructures.  The Environmental Protection Ministry will submit – by the end of the month – a plan to restore the animals and plants of the Carmel forests.  The other ministries, each in its own field, have also joined in, responsibly and with full force.

In order to hasten the work and reduce bureaucracy, today I am submitting a draft proposal to cancel the need for tenders in the rehabilitation work.  This is one of the greatest things that could cost us in the months ahead and, therefore, today we will cancel the need for tenders as part of the Government’s special effort to hasten the rehabilitation work.

By the end of this month, or at our meeting next Sunday, or by the one after that, but no later, we will submit to the Cabinet a draft decision on a national fire authority, and this is in addition to the decision that we have already made to allocate an additional NIS 100 million to the Fire and Rescue Service in order to deal with shortages.  The decision, which we made before the fire, followed the urgent request of Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

We are currently carrying out several important missions: Rehabilitating the communities, dealing with the evacuees, rehabilitating the Carmel forests, and quickly implementing the two main lessons – establishing a national fire and an aerial firefighting force.  We are urgently advancing these two issues and decisions in their regard will be submitted forthwith.” (*)

Israel's leader does not want to share Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu speaks during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. In the background is a portrait of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. (AP Photos/Bernat Armangue, Pool)

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JERUSALEM, Dec 12 (KATAKAMI/ AP) — Israel’s leader dismissed on Sunday a top ally’s call to share the holy city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, another reminder of the challenges the U.S. faces as it shifts gears on its troubled Mideast peacemaking strategy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaffirmation of his intention to hold on to east Jerusalem was liable to escalate friction between the two sides and with the Americans. The White House Mideast envoy is scheduled to arrive this week in another attempt to push peace efforts forward.

The conflicting claims to east Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dispute over the area, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, has derailed past peace talks and spilled into violence.

The Palestinians want to establish their future state in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not recognized by the international community.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed frustration with the Israeli-Palestinian impasse over the weekend, though she did not suggest a new way forward. She spoke at a forum in Washington.

Addressing the same gathering, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the holy city will have to be shared as part of a future peace deal.

An Israeli official told The Associated Press that Barak was expressing a personal opinion, not the government’s position.

“Those remarks were not coordinated with the prime minister,” the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because Netanyahu has not responded publicly to Barak’s remarks or to Clinton’s speech.

Clinton and Barak spoke a few days after the U.S. abandoned efforts to coax Israel into another temporary freeze on new construction in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Since Netanyahu came to power nearly two years ago, Israelis and Palestinians have not gotten anywhere close to tackling the major obstacles to peace such as the status of Jerusalem, borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, or the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees from the war surrounding Israel’s 1948 creation.

In her speech Friday, Clinton urged both sides to lay out their positions on these core issues “without delay and with real specificity.” She pointedly called for compromise on the contested holy city, observing that “there will surely be no peace without an agreement” on Jerusalem — “the most sensitive of all the issues.”

Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction in east Jerusalem led the U.S. last week to abandon its efforts to seek the suspension. The Palestinians’ had refused to resume direct talks without a total halt on construction for Jews in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The U.S.-led negotiations — which broke down in September three weeks after an earlier settlement moratorium expired — are going to revert to their previous format of indirect, U.S.-mediated talks.

While openly admitting her frustration, Clinton insisted the Obama administration would continue pressing for a solution. Washington’s special envoy to the Mideast, George Mitchell, is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week.  (*)

Statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the outcome of the climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a meeting held in the framework of the UN climate Change Conference (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico, on December 8, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Juan BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

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December 11, 2010 (KATAKAMI / UN.ORG) — The UN climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, have delivered important success for a world much in need of it. Governments came together in common cause, for the common good, and agreed on a way forward to meet the defining challenge of our time.

In Cancun, Governments reached agreement on a package of measures to build a low-carbon, climate-resilient future together. These measures include: formalizing mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them taking concrete action to protect the world’s forests, which account for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions establishing a fund for long-term climate financing to support developing countries agreeing to ensure no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol and bolstering technology cooperation and enhancing vulnerable populations’ ability to adapt to the changing climate.

The outcomes in Cancun have given us important tools. Now we must use them, and strengthen our efforts in line with the scientific imperative for action.

I commend Governments for pursuing the path of compromise, a cornerstone of effective multilateralism. In so doing, they have proven that the United Nations can deliver results even on the most challenging global issues of the day.

I extend my deepest thanks to the host country Mexico, President Felipe Calderon, Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, who presided over the conference, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, and the UNFCCC Secretariat for conducting an effective and successful process.

While there is much work yet to do, the success of the UN conference on climate change in Cancun has set the world on the path to a safer, more prosperous, and sustainable world for all.  (*)

British Prime Minister David Cameron hails Cancun agreement

PM David Cameron

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December 11, 2010 (KATAKAMI / NUMBER10.GOV.UK) — Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed the agreement at the UN Climate Change talks in Cancun, Mexico, as a “very significant step forward” to tackling climate change through multilateral action.

Mr Cameron said he was clear that Britain would meet its international obligations and stressed he would continue to make the case for a “global, comprehensive and legally-binding climate agreement”.

He said:

“The Cancun agreement is a very significant step forward in renewing the determination of the international community to tackle climate change through multilateral action.

“This morning I spoke to Chris Huhne to congratulate him and the entire UK team on the successful conclusion of these negotiations.

“I also pay tribute to President Calderon of Mexico for the tremendous skill he has shown in bridging the gaps and producing a consensus outcome.

“Now the world must deliver on its promises. There is more hard work to be done ahead of the climate change conference in South Africa next year.

“I am clear that Britain will meet its international obligations. This will be the greenest ever British Government. And I will continue to make the case for a global, comprehensive and legally-binding climate agreement.”   (*)

Photostream : Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plays piano, sings in English at charity event

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plays the piano at a charity concert for children suffering from eye diseases and cancer in St. Petersburg December 10, 2010. Picture taken December 10, 2010. REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sings during a charity concert in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sings with a young participant as actress Sharon Stone (R) and French actor Alain Delon (2nd R) applaud at a charity concert for children suffering from eye diseases and cancer in St. Petersburg December 10, 2010. Picture taken December 10, 2010. REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends a charity concert in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. At background left is Russian Football Union President Sergei Fursenko and background right is Russia's National soccer team coach Dick Advocaat. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)

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